Because Italians are inherently suspicious of what I cook, I sometimes lie to them in order to sound more expert. In any other nation, people would be impressed by the words “I just threw this together once and it came out really nice”, but Italians don’t seem to work that way. They won’t trust a dirty Northerner like me to come up with something good myself, so instead I pretend what I’ve made is a traditional dish from a region that they’re unfamiliar with.
Generally, if a dish has a British feeling to it, I’ll say it’s a Scottish classic – the best of British food comes from Scotland, after all. If it’s wildly foreign, depending on what ingredients are used, things suddenly become Chinese (star anise and sesame), Indian (turmeric and coriander) or North African (cumin and cinnamon). The golden rule is, the more specific you are, the better. Made something Dutch? Golly, I do believe this is a traditional dish from the south-west of the Netherlands, where it’s normally eaten around the holiday of Saint Bartholomew. Totally. I don’t particularly enjoy lying to people like this, but it’s the only way to get people to appreciate my food, really.
Saint Bartholomew aside, normally when I’m making something more or less Dutch, or let’s say, more or less northern-continental European, I find Flemish is the best fictional cuisine of origin. Flanders is better than its southern counterpart Wallonia (which is kind of French), and the Dutch have a bad reputation when it comes to food, whereas the Flemish are so obscure in the minds of most people that no-one even knows what their reputation is. No Italian knows what those people eat and being from the North, I’m the automatic expert. It works every time.
So voilà, Flemish sweet pork, or pork cutlets with dried fruit. It’s totally from Flanders. No, really. It totally is.
For three, you’ll want to get:
- 3 pork chops
- 4 onions, of different colours including at least 2 reds
- a good hanful of prunes
- a good handful of dried apricots
- half a stick of cinnamon
- salt and pepper
- possibly a small amount of veg stock
Slice all your onions into rings, you’ll need them soon.
Fry your chops in some olive oil until they’re slightly coloured on both sides. Remove them from the pan. Add some oil if it looks very dry (although I don’t think it will, with all the pork fat going on), then fry your onion rings on medium heat.
When the onions have started going softish, chuck in all your dried fruit and the cinnamon stick, and add salt and pepper. Mix all well, leave for a couple of minutes, then put the meat back on top. Leave like this for about 20 minutes, half an hour tops, with a lid on. If it looks like it might be going dry and your fruit is getting stuck to the bottom of your pan, add a small amount of vegetable stock (no more than half a glass, probably not even that).
Serve with some vegetables and/or potatoes on the side. So Flemish!